What do you call something that’s big? Real big? Bigger than big? Maybe it’s mammoth, from the Russian mamut. Although the wooly mammoth have been extinct for approximately 10,000 years, it inspired art from Cro-Magnon days until modern times: "The mammoth roared again like thunder, / And charged as only mammoths can." (Mammoth links from the Field Notes Macropedia, where yet more can be found.) Or perhaps that very large thing is colossal (from the Greek for "giant statue"), like that wonder of the ancient world, the Colossus of Rhodes. Maybe it’s gargantuan, like Rabelais’ giant. Is it titanic, like the Greek precursors to the Olympian gods (or a certain ship)?

All of these words have old antecedants; the two most recent coinages I can think of are "jumbo" and "brobdingnagian". We have Dean Swift to thank for "brobdingnagian" the Brobdingnagians are the giants that Gulliver visits after he discovers the Lilliputians but before reaching the country of the Houyhnhnms and Yahoos. And "jumbo" comes from Jumbo the Elephant, a seven-ton elephant purchased from the London Zoo by master showman (and one-term mayor of Bridgeport, CT) P. T. Barnum.

But Jumbo died in 1885 (his remains rest in a peanut butter jar at Tufts University). Jonathan Swift died in 1745. Rabelais died in 1553. Here in the 21st century, you might refer to a politician as Nixonian, Clintonian, or Reaganesque, but you would never call something really large microsoftial or empirestatebuildingic, let alone chunnelesque or denverairportish. The Hoover Dam is awfully big, but nobody calls smaller (but still awfully big) dams hooverian. As this 1998 Wired article by Bruce Sterling points out, we’re doing more colossal things — super-sized, perhaps — than ever. So where are our neologisms? Where are the words that reflect the daffy grandeur of the mega?